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Overview of Modules

Statistical Methods

The module comprises fives sections. (1) A pre-course which serves to refresh and deepen basic mathematical knowledge, (2) an introduction to Fourier analysis which introduces the mathematical foundations of frequency- domain analyses, (3) an introduction to the theory of the General Linear Model (GLM), a mathematical framework that unifies a number of methods such as simple and multiple linear egression, T-Tests, ANOVA, ANCOVA and provides a useful reference for introducing fundamental frequentist and Bayesian statistical techniques,(4) an introduction to the mass-univariate analysis of fMRI data using the GLM, and (5) an introduction to Bayesian differential equation models of EEG and fMRI data, commonly referred to as “Dynamic Causal Models”. The aim of the module is to familiarize students with, and enable students to, critically evaluate formal data-analytical methods.  Students will obtain an intuitive and mathematical understanding of standard statistical as well as model-based paradigms used in the analysis of neuroimaging data. Furthermore, they will be able to judge the relevance, quality, and limitations of empirical neuroscientific studies. The module is a lecture series with a 90 min written exam which is completed at the end of the first year.

Neurocognitive Methods and Programming

The module comprises four sections. (1) An introduction to electroencephalography (EEG), covering fundamentals of the EEG technique, including its physiological basis, data acquisition, and data analysis methods, (2) an introduction to functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), covering fundamentals of the FMRI technique, including its physiological basis, data acquisition, and data analysis methods, (3) an introduction to imperative programming using Matlab in theory and praxis, and (4) an introduction to neurocognitive experiment programming using the Cogent and Psychtoolbox Matlab Toolboxes.  The aim of the module is to familiarize students with the essential theoretical background knowledge for the practical implementation and evaluation of neuroscientific studies. Students will be able to discuss the relative limitations and benefits of various neurocognitive methods such as EEG and FMRI. Furthermore, they will gain theoretical knowledge in, and practical experience with, imperative programming. The module combines a lecture series with practical exercises and a final project.

Cognitive Neuroscience A

The module will cover the theoretical foundations and important empirical findings from cognitive and affective neuroscience thereby connecting the two of the basic focuses of the program. Using selected examples the students will gain an overview of the intersection of neurocognitive processes with computational processes and their practical applications. After completing the module students will have acquired an advanced knowledge of neuro-cognitive psychology. They will know central theoretical concepts, empirical findings and practical applications of neurocognitive methods within the fields of cognitive and affective neuroscience. With this knowledge they will be able to recognize specific issues, for example with respect to Dyslexia, and select an appropriate methods with which to investigate the chosen topic; such as rating scales, reaction time measurements, non-invasive neuromodulation procedures such as tDCS, rTMS, etc. The students will learn that 'the method must fit the question' and master the evaluation and interpretation of empirical studies as a result. The module will be assessed with presentations and a paper to be written at the end of the second semester.

Cognitive Neuroscience B

The module covers the theoretical foundations and practical applications of neurocognitive processes in the fields of perception, learning, memory and decision making as well as the application of neurocognitive processes in order to address research questions in the fields previously mentioned. The topics will be analyzed in depth based on selected examples from the literature. After completing this module, students will have expanded their knowledge of the fields of general neuro-cognitive psychology as well as have furthered their understanding of the processes underlying learning and memory. Furthermore, they will have acquired theoretical and methodological knowledge of the study of these processes, especially with regard to their role in decision-making, including computer simulation models and neurocognitive processes. The module is a lecture series consisting of several group presentations as well a short review article.

Affective and Social Neuroscience

In this module, selected examples of the theoretical foundations and practical applications of neurocognitive methods in affective and social neuroscience will be discussed in depth. Students will critically discuss relevant studies as well as interpret their results. By the end of the module the students will have expanded their knowledge of neurocognitive, emotional and motivational psychology as well as have acquired the theoretical and methodological knowledge in order to perform research into a variety of affective and social processes within a large variety of contexts.

Developmental and Evolutionary Neuroscience

The module will entail a comprehensive overview of the neuroanatomy of human and non-human primates. The focus is on the development of the neural substrates involved in social-cognitive, emotional and communicative skills of humans in comparison to monkeys and great apes, in evolutionary times (phylogeny) as well as individual life times (ontogeny). Discussions will cover the qualities as well as methodological and ethical limits of the application of neurocognitive methods to children (e.g., eye-tracking, infrared spectroscopy, electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging), as well as invasive procedures used with non-human primates (e.g., single cell recordings and lesions). The co-evolution of brain and behaviour as well as the influence of the social environment on the development of children and nonhuman primates will be analyzed and the resulting similarities, or lack thereof, between humans and other primates will be discussed. Themes of the module include (1) Language evolution and language acquisition including the lateralization of functions, (2)  Mirror neurons and their underlying impact on socio-cognitive skills, (3) Social bonding, (4) Empathy and emotion regulation, and (5) Self-concepts and awareness, all of which will be discussed with respect to the underlying neural structures responsible as well as the related neurocognitive processes. At the end of the module students will have an in depth knowledge of neuro-cognitive psychology with an emphasis on the evolution and development of neural correlates of socio-cognitive and emotional skills. They will know several core theoretical concepts, empirical findings as well as practical applications of a variety of neurocognitive procedures with a special focus on their use with children and non-human primates. They will be able to, based on their acquired knowledge of brain anatomy and primate development, develop arguments regarding the similarities and differences of social-cognitive, communication and emotional skills of people and their closest relatives. The module is a lecture series where students are also expected to present scientific literature of their choice to the class.

Clinical SCAN

The module covers the theoretical foundations and practical applications of neuropsychological procedures which are relevant for questions which fall within the SCAN research domain. The students learn several neuropsychological methods and models which are applied to empirical data from a variety of neuropsychiatric populations. This includes: neural correlates of cognitive, emotional and affective functions whose disturbances in patients with mental disorders, brain damage and the detection of such problems will be addressed with both case studies as well as group studies. The students will have gained a basic knowledge of the general theoretical foundations and practical applications of neuropsychological methods and their characteristics in clinical populations. They will have gained cooperation and communication skills which can be applied to the diagnostic processing of individual case studies as well as with groups. Furthermore, they will be able to assess neuropsychological examinations in clinical and non-clinical contexts. The module consists of a lecture series with several guest speakers and individual presentations.

Neurocognitive Methods Practical

The module is a continuation of the Neurocognitive Methods and Programming module. In this module students will practice data collection and data analysis methods with concrete examples thereby establishing the theoretical background and practical applications of neurocognitive processes. There is a special focus on the standardized methods (SPM, FSL) which will be used to explore the univariate and multivariate methods of fMRI and EEG data analysis as well as methods for the analysis of the structural and functional connectivity. Thus, through this module, students will learn the active application of these methods as well as the interpretation of their results. After completing this module students will have gained practical knowledge of experimental design and implementation in the areas of social, cognitive and affective neuroscience and will be familiar with the software FSL and SPM as well as knowing what situations are best dealt with by which.The module is a two week long intensive and interactive lecture series with an oral examination at the end.

Research Workshop

In the module Research Experience, students complete an internship in either a domestic or foreign research institution of their choice under the supervision of an experienced scientist. There are an incredibly diverse range of fields from which to choose which cover the entire range of neuroscience research. During the internship students are involved in the research process including work on the experimental design, implementing the experiment and analysing the data. With this module students will have further expanded their previous methodological skills and developed specific skills relevant to their research project as well as have gained valuable experience of what working within a research group or institution involves. This module may overlap with the Master Thesis project however it is not required to do so.

Research Experience

In this module students give a short presentation as well as write an exposé to present their Master Thesis proposal ideas. The students meet as a group two or thee times in February with the committee members and present their thesis project ideas. The students each give a 20 minute presentation wherein they present the background information that is relevant to their topic, the specific question they which to address and the methods they will use. After the presentation there is a 20 minute question and answer period wherein the committee members and other students can comment on the project as well as address any methodological problems that may be present. The exposé is more or less the presentation in written form and will serve as a basis for the introduction and methods section of the thesis. The students submit their exposé to their supervisors for grading and the grade from the expose and the presentation are combined to form a final grade for the module.

Master Thesis

In this module students complete their Master's Thesis project. The SCAN program offers students a number of options for their theses projects with the requirement that students gain some expertise within a neuroscientific domain. The projects can, but do not have to, take advantage of a neuroimaging technique such as EEG or fMRI. Students should discuss their ideas with professors of the SCAN program before committing to a project to ensure that their project fulfills the SCAN program MSc thesis requirements.